TxDOT launches investigation into crews dumping waste near Dripping Springs

Investigations

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) – Two days after a KXAN Investigation exposed Texas Department of Transportation employees dumping dead animals and waste at a site near Dripping Springs, the agency said it has launched an internal investigation.

“TxDOT takes this matter seriously and as soon as TxDOT supervisors became aware of the issue, steps were quickly taken to address the problem,” said Executive Director James Bass in a prepared statement. “We will be doing a systematic review to ensure guidelines are being followed throughout the district and the state.”

The dump is located on US 290 just east of Dripping Springs and below a water tower bearing the words “Dripping Springs Gateway to the Hill Country.”

TxDOT truck  dumping a load of dirt and garbage over a dead deer and tire on Nov. 17, 2017. KXAN later checked the pile of debris and found luggage, plastics and random trash in it. (KXAN Photo)

KXAN surveilled the dump for two months with stationary cameras, after receiving a tip and images from a concerned local citizen. We caught TxDOT employees from a nearby district garage visiting and dumping dead deer and waste on multiple occasions.

We also found a pool of black sludge in an unlined pit. A local laboratory tested the substance and found it was mostly composed of oil. One environmental expert called the dump “disturbing” and “illegal” after visiting it.

TxDOT crews began clearing garbage from the site on Jan. 22. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality started its own investigation into the dump in January.

TxDOT officials said they do not believe anything illegal was done, and the beauty and environment are of “great importance” to the department.

Bass acknowledged guidelines for disposing of waste “were not followed,” according to his statement.

The concerned citizen, Jimi Lovejoy, said he was dismayed by the dumping and “someone should take the blame.” He discovered the dump after pulling his car over to investigate dozens of buzzards swarming around it.

“This absolutely needs to be exposed to our citizens of Dripping Springs and [it’s] just a horrible slap in the face by TxDOT,” Lovejoy said. “You are supposed to trust them.”

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